Exercising our Citizenship; Preparing for Election Day 2020 in Scripture and Prayer
Lord God, you call your people to honor those in authority. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, participate in wise decisions for our common life, and serve our neighbors in local communities. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be at peace among ourselves
and a blessing to other nations of the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
As we approach Election Day next week in our country, there are many voices competing for our attention. This day I share with you voices of scripture and prayer, reminding us of our calling as a community of faith. Perhaps you will join me in choosing to turn down the volume on politicians and pundits, and to embrace a prayer like the one above, a prayer for responsible citizenship. Let us be reminded of the voices of our heritage and holy scripture, voices that call upon government to be a blessing and our role as voters to be those called to serve.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil
against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
One way forward in this time of national election is to take on disciplines of devotion and prayer as a way of preparing our hearts, transcending our screens that are flooded with incessant campaign advertising and social media that is overwhelmed with the competition to be the loudest voice in the room. Inspired by the prophet’s wisdom and the Beatitudes of Jesus, we are invited into prayer.
Everlasting God, source of all liberty,
before whom every earthly ruler must bow and bend the knee,
we lay our nation before you as we prepare for an election.
Breathe upon us your Spirit of wisdom and discernment.
Grant all who seek public office the mind of Christ,
who came not to be served but to serve,
and to give his life for the freedom of the oppressed.
Hold before us those who face uncertain futures,
or who have no voice in our political process.
Uphold and safeguard poll workers and election officials in their work.
Spare us from the crushing weight of cynicism.
Give us grace to speak courageously, but with love,
without which our words are noise and we are nothing.
Gather us together under the cross,
where, in all of our difference, we can stand as one people,
redeemed in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
God of all people, your ways are higher than any earthly ruler and your righteousness is truer than any worldly judge. Align our hearts with your justice, that in this upcoming election we would commit to making decisions based on the needs of the poor and oppressed in our midst and our stewardship of all that you have made. Open the minds of our leaders, that they too will show concern for the needy and compassion towards those in distress. Unite us all around the cross, pledging our utmost allegiance to the slaughtered lamb, your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Consider this charge to the people, an exhortation to mission, as you complete your good work as a citizen, voting for leaders and then joining arms in the mission entrusted to all of us.
Go out into the world in peace;
hold on to what is good;
return no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak, and help the suffering;
honor all people;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Beloved in the Lord,
God has shown you what is good.
What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Again, the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul call us to that shared mission, for the sake of the world. As we consider our partnership with those elected in our local communities, state and nation in the days ahead, let us be reminded of our partnership with Christ Jesus in advancing the Gospel, the truth that sets us free, and seeking to be servants of reconciliation.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to
one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander,
together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind,
having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
We are invited, again and again, into disciplines of prayer.
out of your great love for the world,
your Word became flesh to live among us
and to reconcile us to you and to one another.
Rekindle among us the gift of your Spirit
that we might live as one new humanity in Christ,
dismantling the walls that divide,
ending the hostility between us,
and proclaiming peace those who are near
and to those who are far away;
through Christ Jesus, in whom we all have access,
in the one Spirit to you,
both now and forever. Amen.
Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and extend to us your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy, bring us to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
In this time of decision, let us be those who live to dismantle the walls that divide and who work for a peace and reconciliation authored by God in Christ, that “all our works begun, continued and ended” in our Lord, may glorify God’s name.
Blessings to you, O people of Trinity. May you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love.
It remains a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Robert Linstrom